A programme to encourage children to read has been unleashed in Waikato libraries, with an appreciative canine audience.
Waikato District Council's Dogs in Libraries programme aims to get children to practise reading aloud to a friendly, non-judgmental listener.
Animal control team leader Megan May, who helped get the programme up and running, said it was a way of engaging children and teaching safety around dogs at the same time.
"The response we've had so far is really positive."
The three dogs involved were narrowed down from an initial six, which were all rigorously examined by an external animal behaviourist, she said.
The trio were Monty, a labrador cross whose favourite book was Peter Rabbit, a labrador-boxer cross called Chloe who enjoyed Clifford The Big Red Dog stories, and Charlie Brown, a shih tzu cross who preferred Hairy Maclary books.
"Each of the dogs has a little bookmark that the kids get, that are quite personalised to the dog, after they've finished reading to them," Ms May said.
The programme was being held in a separate area of the library so anyone who was not a dog fan could avoid them.
But Ms May hoped the programme might also help change some children's minds.
"I do imagine that there will be some children that are scared of dogs... Hopefully this will be an opportunity to break down some of those fears."
A similar progamme started up in Canterbury last year.